President-elect departs to Saudi Arabia
President-elect Ibrahim Mohamed Solih departed Wednesday afternoon to perform the Umra pilgrimage in Saudi Arabia.
Solih will meet with Saudi government officials during the trip, according to his spokeswoman Mariya Ahmed Didi.
He is due to return Friday ahead of the inauguration ceremony scheduled to take place on November 17.
Solih was accompanied by Jumhooree Party leader Gasim Ibrahim, the newly elected speaker of parliament, along with Adhaalath Party deputy leader Ali Zahir and coalition lawmakers.
They reportedly travelled on a private jet arranged by the Saudi government.
Last month, former president Mohamed Nasheed travelled to Riyadh at the invitation of King Salman bin Abdulaziz and met with Crown Prince Mohamed bin Salman during a one-day visit.
Both Nasheed and the Maldivian Democratic Party came under fire at the time over their silence on the killing of Jamal Kashoggi, a Washington Post columnist who was critical of the powerful crown prince.
The outgoing administration meanwhile backed Saudi Arabia amid the international crisis sparked by the journalist’s disappearance, expressing support for the kingdom’s warning against threats of economic sanctions.
During his five-year term, President Abdulla Yameen fostered closer ties with Riyadh, and the Maldives fell behind Saudi Arabia in international disputes, severing ties with its rivals Qatar and Iran.